The First Amendment of the United States Constitution includes the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. These clauses instruct that legislature shall neither establish an official religion nor unnecessarily restrict the practice of any religion. U.S. Const. amend. I.
The Supreme Court has adopted a standard of neutrality to satisfy the Establishment Clause stating: neither federal or state government can enact laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another, and neither can force nor influence a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. Everson v. Bd. of Educ., 330 U.S. 1, 15 (1947). The means that the Martin County Board ...view middle of the document...
Id at 612.
There have been some applications of the Lemon test, but over time have seen some adaptations for application. The Allegheny test is used to determine whether there is governmental endorsement of religion, which is prohibited by the Establishment Clause. Cnty of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573, 593 (1989). In Allegheny, a question arose about the constitutionality of winter festivity paraphernalia that were displayed in government buildings. Id. at 578.The displays included a crèche in the county courthouse, as well as two other displays in the city-count building: an eighteen-foot-tall menorah and a forty-five feet tall Christmas tree. Id. at 578. The court decided that the crèche, but not the menorah or the Christmas tree, violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. Id. at 579. The court stated that the Christmas tree and the menorah did not constitute sufficiently religious activity for the First Amendment to prohibit the displays and that the Christmas tree is not a religious symbol, but a celebration of Christmas; while the menorah is readily understood as a simple recognition that Christmas is not the only traditional way of observing the winter holiday season. Id. at 616-18. The Allegheny test precludes the government from assigning or attempting to assign a message that a religion or a particular religious belief is favored or preferred. Id. at 593.
The Lee test is used to determine whether there is coercion of religion. Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 587 (1992). The Lee test prohibits public school officials from conveying an endorsement of religion to their students in a manner that gives them limited options of rejection because it violates the core of the Establishment Clause, regardless of however "ceremonial" the message may be. Id. at 631.
B. The Marsh Test
The Marsh test is used to determine whether a prayer policy was used to advance or belittle any religion or belief. Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 794 (1983). In Marsh, a member of the Nebraska Legislature brought an action challenging the constitutionality of the practice of opening each legislative session with a prayer by a chaplain paid with public funds. Id. at 786. Nebraska had employed the same minister for over sixteen years, and he had provided an invocation to open most daily legislative sessions. Id. at 793. The minister had initially prayed in the Christian tradition, but this practice changed over time to follow the “Judeo-Christian” tradition. Id. The “Judeo-Christian” tradition involved removing references to Jesus Christ and instead referred to an ambiguous God in the invocations. Id. Instead of using the Lemon test to determine the principle of neutrality in the context of the legislative prayer, the Court based its decision on history and long-standing traditions. Id. at 792. The Marsh test finds that the unbroken practice of prayer before a legislative event, for a long-standing period...